A Marine who lost his right arm and leg in Iraq said he and his wife had to try to fend off five thugs who mugged them last month in Washington, D.C.
Lance Cpl. Mark Beyers, 27, has been finishing his rehabilitation at Walter Reed Army Medical Center after being wounded by a roadside bomb on Aug. 26, 2005, in Hit, Iraq.
“I got hit in Hit,” joked Beyers, a reservist with the 3rd Battalion 25th Marines, based in Buffalo, N.Y.
His wife, Denise, 26, decided to take her husband out to dinner July 22 at a restaurant in northwest Washington. About midnight, the Elma, N.Y., couple was walking back to their car when they came across five men, said Denise Beyers, who recently left the Marine Corps as a corporal.
At first, the men were friendly and asked the couple for cigarettes. Then they told her, “Give me your purse, give me your purse.”
Two men went after her and three went after her husband, who was not wearing a prosthetic arm and whose prosthetic leg was clearly visible because he was wearing shorts.
Denise Beyers fought to hold on to her purse, but her attackers grabbed her by the mouth and threw her to the ground. They then dumped the contents of her purse on the ground and took off with $300 to $400 in cash that her mother had wired to her.
While this was going on, the other three men told her husband to take his watch off.
“And he said, ‘How the hell do you expect me to take my watch off with one arm?’” she said.
When they tried to grab it from him, he shoved them away, Denise Beyers said.
Mark Beyers was able to deflect his attackers’ punches, saying that when you only have one arm, “It gets pretty strong, believe me.”
When the attack was over, none of the three men landed a punch against Mark Beyers.
His wife, who suffered cuts and bruises in the attack, said no one came to their aid during the attack.
In a telephone interview Thursday, a manager at the restaurant said he was unaware of the incident.
Denise Beyers said the incident made her irate, “but at the same time, I have to remind myself that it could have been a lot worse, and I’m glad that I was the one to get bruised up instead of my husband, because he’s already been through enough pain.”
Mark Beyers said he could not believe that anyone would go after someone with only one arm and leg, but he added there are some bad people out there who don’t care if you’re a veteran.
“If I was in a wheelchair, they still would have done it.”
He said the incident makes him worry about the safety of other wounded veterans recuperating in Washington.
Walter Reed spokesman Bill Swisher called the attack the first such incident that he was aware of.
“A ‘safe area’ is in the eye — or the perception — of the beholder,” Swisher said in a Friday e-mail to Stars and Stripes. “Washington, D.C., is one of the 20 largest cities in the United States. We recommend to all of our patients and staff that they exercise the same precautions with regard to their personal safety as they would in any big city.”
No arrests had been made in connection with the attack as of Friday, according to Metropolitan Police.
“I don’t know if they’ll ever catch them or whatever, but we don’t want to go through court — we just want to go home,” Denise Beyers said.
She said the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Akron, N.Y., is planning to hold a fundraiser for the couple.
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